Life Intrudes, Sharply

Yesterday, my wonderful wife’s mother entered an in-patient hospice facility. Five months ago she was diagnosed with Stage 4 metastatic carcinoma. The primary cancer was almost certainly from her bout with breast cancer in 2016, which, sadly, was not her first battle with the disease.

My wife is, understandably, worried about her father. Her parents have been married 67 years. I am very worried about my wonderful wife. She is an only child and worships her mother.

Many of us have to deal with a situation like this, but I cannot imagine it’s ever anything less than gut-wrenching.


My writing “The terrorists have won” in this post was, obviously, premature. Yesterday, the US House of Representatives passed a bill providing funding for Israel’s Iron Dome DEFENSIVE system by an overwhelming vote of 420-9.

Three of the four disgusting members of the House known as “The Squad” were among the nine “No” votes. The fourth member, the one who some news outlets treat as the only important Representative among 435, voted “Present.”



I blame much of the news media for giving these four cretins so much exposure. I also think the media likes to use scare tactics about the damn virus in order to boost their ratings. This article from The Atlantic, written by Craig Spencer (an emergency-medicine physician and director of global health in emergency medicine at New York Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center), reads in part:


“So let me make one thing clear: Vaccinated people are not as likely to spread the coronavirus as the unvaccinated. Even in the United States, where more than half of the population is fully vaccinated, the unvaccinated are responsible for the overwhelming majority of transmission…the single most important factor in spreading the coronavirus: To spread the coronavirus, you have to have the coronavirus. And vaccinated people are far less likely to have the coronavirus—period.

Among the unvaccinated, the virus travels unhindered on a highway with multiple off-ramps and refueling stations. In the vaccinated, it gets lost in a maze of dead-end streets and cul-de-sacs. Every so often, it pieces together an escape route, but in most scenarios, it finds itself cut off, and its journey ends. It can go no further.

This is borne out by recent data from New York City that show that more than 96 percent of cases are among the unvaccinated. Only 0.33 percent of fully vaccinated New Yorkers have been diagnosed with COVID-19.”


I don’t think this type of information is being disseminated in most of the news media. It’s not good for ratings. I also trust someone like Spencer infinitely more than any politician, entertainer or lay person.


On this day in 1948 the Honda Motor Company was incorporated. The company has gained at least as much notoriety for its motorcycles as for its cars, but it has produced two cars of which I think very highly. One was even a member of my Ultimate Garage 3.0.


See the source image

See the source image


The top picture, of course, is a Honda S2000, which was included in my Ultimate Garage 3.0. The bottom picture is the current generation Acura NSX; Acura is Honda’s “luxury” car make.

In my first blog, I posted an Ultimate Garage and a couple of readers were quite angry that I had not included the modern NSX. As I wrote then, I think very highly of the car, but not quite highly enough to have included it. Sadly in my opinion, the 2022 model year will be the last for this generation NSX. Who knows? It might be the last NSX, period.

Oh, I am indeed writing this post at a little after midnight local time. I cannot sleep despite my usual 5 mg of Melatonin. Life intrudes, sharply.








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Postscript: within minutes of publishing this post I had many views of the main blog link as well as this post. All of these views were from the US. It’s about 4:00 AM on the East Coast and about 1:00 AM here. Who’s reading at this hour?!




A Reprieve From The Governor

For the first time in weeks, I woke up today without any new bug bites. Today’s post title, though, was primarily inspired by something I recently read on an “official” WordPress web page. They are extending support for the Classic Editor at least through the end of next year.

The actual verbiage was about supporting the Classic Editor “Plug In.” I have a different path to using it, but I assume (you know what happens when you assume) that my path will continue to work as well.

WordPress management does seem to understand that the new editor is not popular with many users. I still think that if they insist on their ill-advised decision to remove all access to the Classic Editor at some point, then they will lose a significant proportion of bloggers. For now, though, I don’t have to worry. At least not about this issue, I don’t think.


I believe I wrote about this last year or the year before, but on this day in 1899 the first US parade of horseless carriages–automobiles–took place in Newport, Rhode Island. Much else of significance happened in that “last” year of the 19th century. (I am not going to get into the debate that since there was never a year “0” the last year of every century ends in “00” and starts with at least one different digit than the previous 99.)

James Ward Packard built his first automobile in 1899 and ran it in Warren, Ohio in November. Ransom Eli Olds’ “second” company, Olds Motor Works–the one that would make him famous–was established after the merger of Olds Motor Vehicle Company and the Olds Gas Engine Works Company and moved to Detroit. The first issue of Motor Age magazine was published. Freelan Stanley drove a Stanley Steamer, built by him and twin brother Francis, to the top of Mount Washington in New Hampshire.

A Winton franchise became New York City’s first automobile franchise. Also in that year Winton was probably the first US auto manufacturer to reach triple digits in annual production as it produced 106 cars. From a Pinterest page, a picture of an 1899 Winton car:


See the source image


I personally have no interest in this vintage of automobile, but I do very much appreciate their significance. By the way, just five years later (in 1904) Ransom Eli Olds’ company produced about 5,500 cars, more than the next two makes combined (Cadillac and Rambler), and about 50 times the number of Wintons produced in 1899.


“In reality, the risks of getting any version of the virus remain small for the vaccinated and the risks of getting badly sick remain minuscule…In Seattle on an average day, about one of every million vaccinated residents have been admitted to a hospital with Covid symptoms. That risk is so close to zero that the human mind can’t easily process it.”

This excerpt from a New York Times article was tweeted this morning by Brian Sullivan of CNBC. In one state in the wacky West, the governor has imposed an outdoors mask mandate on all people, vaccinated or not. It is obvious that some in government are drunk with the power the damn virus has seemingly given them.

Almost all vaccinated people testing “positive” for the virus are asymptomatic and it’s not completely clear that they’re even carriers. Even if they are, if you’re worried about getting sick and are not vaccinated, then just get vaccinated.


Does anyone have any suggestions as to a potential Cadillac ATS replacement if the car is classified as a total loss by the “at-fault” driver’s insurance company? Once again, we are not buying a sedan, SUV or pickup truck. The car can be no longer than about 188 inches, but must be able to comfortably seat four and have a decent-sized trunk.

I would say the Infiniti Q60 is the leading contender right now. We would not balk at buying another ATS, we really like the car, but they are not easy to find in the coupe version, which was discontinued after the 2019 model year. An AutoTrader search with the relevant criteria generates a list of primarily Challengers (too long for the garage), Camaros (not enough rear leg room) and Mustangs (ditto).

I wish we could buy this:



Hey, it doesn’t really have seating for four. Yep, there’s your problem…







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Wingless Wednesday

Idea to ponder:


France has long laid claim to a national identity, based on a common culture, fundamental rights and core values like equality and liberty, rejecting diversity and multiculturalism. The French often see the United States as a fractious society at war with itself.


Many of those on the American left idolize France. I wonder if they know how much most of the French, including the French left, abhor the identity politics of the American left. The French economy is still broken, though, IMO.


From @EricTopol on Twitter:



Israel’s test positivity of 0.3% is their lowest since the pandemic started. Vaccines work! In that vein is this CNBC story about former FDA chief Dr. Scott Gottlieb’s prediction that “I think you’re going to start to see cases come down quite dramatically as we get into May.” Of course, the primary factor in his prediction is the increasing number of those in the US who have been vaccinated.


This piece in AutoEvolution is about the soon to be released Z06 version of the C8 Corvette. The focus of the article is that it is expected that the Z06 engine will be the most powerful naturally aspirated V-8 in the world, producing about 620 HP. This DOHC engine will feature a flat-plane crankshaft instead of a cross-plane design and should have a redline of at least 8,000 RPM. From a picture of a C8 Corvette in what is probably my favorite color for the car:


See the source image


See those stripes? I am toying with the idea of having similar stripes, but in medium metallic gray, painted on my C7 Z06. The hood vents will be an issue, though. Want to see my car again? No? Too bad:



Why I have this sudden desire for much more modification to my car is not clear. Maybe it’s my way of celebrating as much of a return to normal as is possible given I am fully vaccinated against the damn virus. Maybe I just hear the clock ticking and don’t want to leave any stone unturned. Life is NOT about doing as little as possible.









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Full Immunity Friday

Today marks two weeks since my wonderful wife and I received our second doses of the Pfizer vaccine against the damn virus. Supposedly, that means we’ve reached “full” immunity. Of course, Pfizer’s CEO has recently remarked that he thinks people will need a third shot within a year. Let’s hope that research currently being conducted to create a universal coronavirus vaccine will bear fruit.

Our reaching this “milestone” does mean our behavior will change. I will resume dining at restaurants on a more regular basis, but still will insist on sitting outside. It’s a good thing we’re in Arizona as we can dine outside the majority of the year.

We will probably resume indoor shopping, but will try to restrict our time indoors and will continue to wear masks. We will attend car events again, but only those being held outdoors.

About 38 percent of the US population has received at least one shot of a vaccine and about 24 percent is fully vaccinated. Although recent polls suggest that the proportion of people who claim they will “never” receive a vaccination is declining, that proportion still exceeds 20 percent. Every non-vaccinated person is another potential host for the virus to replicate and to mutate.

If you haven’t already done so, please get vaccinated.


Speaking of the virus, the World Health Organization (WHO) has finally issued a formal recommendation to halt the sale of live animals at so-called “wet” markets.  The WHO statement includes the “guidance” that animals–particularly wild animals–are the source of more than 70 percent of all emerging infectious diseases in humans, many of which are caused by novel viruses like the one that has wreaked so much havoc since early last year.

I seriously doubt the WHO recommendation will be obeyed by those countries where the practice exists of selling live animals in the same place people can buy food and other items. I smell hypocrisy in the views of many who think we should all be vaccinated, but that we don’t have the right to recommend to other countries how their citizens can shop. If wet markets didn’t exist in China and in other places in Southeast Asia, the last year would probably have been a lot different.


Some (hopefully) calming photos for a Friday:



Both of those photos that include the beautiful blossoms on the Ocotillo are from the east side of our house. The view showing the mountain faces north and graces our presence virtually every day. The exception, of course, is those very rare days with low clouds and precipitation.

Once again, I don’t know if my tune will change during the long and very hot summer here, but so far I remain captivated by the scenery and the weather.


No one should be surprised by the fact that I receive regular emails from Mecum Auctions. The most recent one contained this photo:



Once again, it is not my intention to violate any copyright laws, but I didn’t see any note not to share the photo. 56PackardMan, who has now been missing from the blogosphere for almost a year, loves these ’34 Packards. My wonderful wife and I do, as well.

Only 960 Packard Twelves were produced in the “11th Series” across three models: the 1106, 1107 and 1108. Some 11th Series cars were actually produced in 1933 when Packard felt it was above the industry practice of designating cars by model year.

While my wonderful wife and I will not be attending the Mecum Indy event this year, we are closer to finalizing arrangements to attend this year’s Monterey auction in August. Hey, why did we get vaccinated if we’re not going to resume a more “normal” life?

Enjoy your weekend!










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WTF Wednesday

Today’s first topic was suggested/inspired by a direct Twitter comment to me by Dominic Chu of CNBC.

The FDA decision to pause use of the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine is a WTF moment, in my opinion. I was going to express my objections, but I’ll let someone far more qualified do so, Nate Silver:


“6 cases out of 7 million people. What a disaster. This is going to get people killed. And it’s going to create more vaccine hesitancy. These people don’t understand cost-benefit analysis. They keep making mistakes by orders of magnitude.”


Not to pick nits, but since apparently only women developed the blood clots it is closer to 6 cases out of about 3.5 million people, or about 1 in 600,000. That is a mere 1/200th of the frequency with which women taking oral contraceptives develop blood clots, granting the blood clots may not be exactly of the same type. Oral contraceptives are still being sold.

As to whether or not this decision will create more vaccine hesitancy, I believe the vast majority of adults have already decided whether or not they are going to be vaccinated, but on the margin Nate is right. I will also opine that those who choose not to receive a vaccine are clearly on the wrong side of the facts and will clearly be on the wrong side of history. I will, once again, quote Louis Armstrong and Isaac Asimov:


“There are some people that if they don’t know, you can’t tell them.”


“There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.’”


Oh, the extreme libertarians are wrong a lot and so are those who have blind faith in government.


While running errands yesterday I saw a “carcass” of one of these being transported on a flatbed truck:


See the source image


From Barrett-Jackson a picture of a 1955 Studebaker Speedster. That was the only year the Speedster was offered and it was introduced as a top of the line model with “upgraded” chrome and brightwork. I consider it a bridge between the original Loewy coupes and the Hawk line that began in 1956.

I have to admit I almost drove off the road trying to ascertain the car’s identity and again when I realized what it was. Of course, since I was driving I could not get a picture. The car was in rough shape, though.

Obviously, I hope the car was being transported to someone who will begin restoring it. Only 2,215 Speedsters were produced.


Let this fact sink in:


More than half (54%) of the 1.7 million unemployed workers age 55 and over are long-term unemployed, according to AARP, an advocacy group for older Americans. (Economists consider long-term unemployment to be a period exceeding six months.)


Of course, I fit in that category as a 55 and older long-term unemployed. Age discrimination is very real, but very difficult to prove. I will once again write that it is absurd that someone with my skills and experience was unable to find a fulfilling and interesting work situation after my baseball career ended. Now, I am in the “discouraged worker” category, I guess.











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My wonderful wife and I received our second shots against the damn virus yesterday. Other than arms more sore than after the first shot, we are experiencing no side effects.

The fact that so many people are refusing to get vaccinated is quite frightening. The virus will continue to have hosts, to replicate, to mutate and, eventually, to become less affected by vaccines.

Five minutes on the Internet does not give anyone the knowledge of a bright person who has spent decades in medicine. Why people believe politicians before scientists is beyond me. I go back to Henry Kissinger’s famous remark, “Ninety percent of politicians give the other ten percent a bad name.” How about, “Idolizing a politician is like believing the stripper really likes you.”

Still, given the CDC guidance from yesterday that fully vaccinated people can resume travel with “low risk” I am hopeful of soon returning to some activities that we have avoided for more than a year. Maybe we’ll get out of the Arizona heat for a few days in August and head to Monterey, California for the Mecum auction.


Don’t ask me why the 1940 model year is today’s automotive topic. The idea came to me while I was perusing The American Auto by the Auto Editors of Consumer Guide® and this picture “spoke” to me:



Given my inspiration for writing about cars began with a picture from the same book, I decided that ignoring such “motivation” would be foolish. Graham had introduced America’s first moderately priced supercharged car in 1934 and then America’s first supercharged six-cylinder car in 1936.

Graham partnered with Norman De Vaux, General Manager of Huppmobile, who had purchased the tooling for the 1936-38 Cord 810/812 Westchester sedan, to bring out the supercharged Hollywood, but with rear-wheel drive instead of the Cord front-wheel drive. Hupp also sold a similar car, the Hupp Skylark.

1940 was the last year Cadillac sold automobiles equipped with a V-16 engine. All V-16 Cadillacs had a price of over $5,000 in 1940 while no other Cadillac cost even $4,000.

Even though Cadillac showed a concept car with a V-16 motor in 2003, the beautiful if prosaically named Sixteen, we will almost certainly never again see a production 16-cylinder automobile engine. Not that many years ago, when I still had daydreams about starting a car company, I thought about a hypercar powered by a 2,500 HP V-16 engine. Ah yes, what is life without dreams?

Of course, the 1940 model year saw the introduction of one of the most significant innovations in automotive history, the Hydra-Matic automatic transmission. Jointly developed by Oldsmobile and Cadillac, the Hydra-Matic was first available in Oldsmobiles in May, 1939 as a 1940 model year car.

I have not been able to find out what percentage of 1940 Oldsmobiles were equipped with Hydra-Matic, but I can tell you that 30 percent of Cadillacs had it in 1941, the first model year it was available in the Caddy. I can also tell you that in the truncated 1942 model year, almost half of all Oldsmobiles had Hydra-Matic.

I will once again offer my opinion that in the US the traditional manual transmission is already dead on its feet, but no one has had the decency to knock it over and to give it a proper burial. More new electric vehicles are sold here than vehicles with standard manuals, and the share of electrics has plateaued, at least for now.

Yes, Cadillac is offering a manual in its Blackwing cars, but in my opinion that’s strictly to appeal to those who buy German cars, a segment of the market that still has a double-digit percentage of drivers who want a manual. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.


Of course, the clouds of war were already visible in the US by 1940. It was in that year that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt appointed General Motors President William Knudsen as Chairman of the Office of Production Management and member of the National Defense Advisory Commission. Knudsen, who was born in Denmark, served with distinction for the whopping salary of $1 a year.

In January 1942, Knudsen received a commission as a lieutenant general in the US Army, the only civilian ever to join the army at such a high initial rank, and appointed as Director of Production, Office of the Under Secretary of War. In that capacity, he worked as a consultant and a troubleshooter for the War Department.










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The Countdown Continues

17 days until my wonderful wife and I receive our second vaccination against the damn virus, 31 days until “full immunity.” As I fully understand, at our age that time will fly by.

We cannot wait to attend car shows and to visit car museums, to dine inside at restaurants, to visit antique shops. Those activities are really all we’ve missed as we are not partiers nor did we travel multiple times a year. I have mentioned to my wonderful wife that when we are “fully immune” I would like to go back to the last restaurant where we dined indoors before all hell broke loose, an IHOP in Sun City, Arizona. Remember, we were vacationing here last year at this time to attend the Mecum auction.

I hoped, but did not expect to be living here at the time of this year’s Mecum auction. I certainly never expected to be here and be unable to attend. No one can consistently predict the future with any degree of accuracy.



I keep thinking about this car, a Studebaker Gran Turismo Hawk that was offered on Bring A Trailer back in 2018. It looks like a 1964 model given the landau roof, but it doesn’t have to be from that year. For me, I differentiate the years by the rear deck molding or lack thereof.

IF I ever acquire one I would like to have it painted green, although a little darker than this one, and would like to fit it with wire wheels. Granted that I have never seen this car in person, but other than one I saw at the AACA Museum in Hershey, Pennsylvania, this is the nicest Gran Turismo Hawk I have ever seen. For me, dark exterior colors muddle the lines and I am not a fan of white cars, either. Here is a photo I recently “published” of a 1962 model at the Mecum auction in Arizona last year:



Note the rear deck molding is basically all metal; that is how the ’62s were outfitted. For 1963, the bottom of the molding had a black strip so “Studebaker Hawk” stood out. For 1964, the molding was removed as the deck stamping was finally changed from the original used since 1956. For the ’64s, “Studebaker Hawk” was shown as a badge in stainless or some other “chrome-like” metal against the “plain” rear deck.

If space for another car were not an obstacle, one reason I would hesitate to buy one of these is service. I am certainly not qualified to fix one myself–my acquisition of a service manual for all 1959-64 Studebakers notwithstanding–and I have little idea what shop would be qualified to work on the car. I have read about one shop that specializes in working on “classic” cars located at the Scottsdale Airpark although the name eludes me for the moment. (Damn advancing age!)

Any thoughts or opinions you have would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.








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Pi(e) Day

Today’s date, of course, is 3/14. I gather that some people “celebrate” today as Pi Day. You know; Pi, the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. Let’s see, how many digits do I still remember? 3.14159265358979323846…that’s all I remember and the number of Pi digits I know hasn’t changed since high school.

Three divided by 14 is also an interesting number: .214285714285714285714285714, ad infinitum. You see, I spent a lot of time with the first electronic calculator I ever owned, which my father purchased for me from the adding machine shop next to his gas station. This was in the early 1970s. I used that calculator to compute all kinds of baseball, football and basketball statistics. I guess that wasn’t a waste of time, after all.

I’d actually rather eat a piece of pie than to discuss Pi, but I seldom do either. Of course, the formula to calculate the displacement of an engine uses Pi; actually, it uses Pi divided by 4. The full formula is the square of the bore times the stroke times Pi/4 (which is about .7854) times the number of cylinders. An eight-cylinder engine with a 4-inch bore and 3.125 inch stroke (three and an eighth inches) has a displacement of 314 cubic inches. Actually, that displacement calculates as exactly 100 times Pi, so it would be 314.159265359 cubic inches.


Other than a sore upper arm, which has pretty much dissipated by now, I had no side effects from my first damn virus vaccine. I’m knocking on my head to simulate knocking on wood. Maybe it’s no simulation…


On this day in 1962 a car like this was the 75 millionth vehicle produced by General Motors:


See the source image


From Barrett-Jackson this is a picture of a 1962 Pontiac Bonneville convertible. Yes, by this time Pontiac bodies resembled Buick bodies which resembled Oldsmobile bodies. Still, some of the trim and accoutrements were different.

Model year 1962 marked the beginning of Pontiac’s eight-year stint as the third most popular make in the US (albeit a distant third), behind only Chevrolet and Ford. Note that this was two years before the introduction of the GTO.

Pontiac built 21,582 Bonneville convertibles in 1962, which were priced at $3,570. It was their second most expensive model that year; the Bonneville Safari wagon cost $3,624.

Of course, I think these cars are fantastic. The legendary 421 Super Duty was available on Pontiac cars in 1962 although I think they were only available on the Catalina and the Grand Prix. (Hey, Bill Stephens, can you help me out?) These engines were officially rated at 405 HP/425 LB-FT of torque, but many “in the know” think those figures are conservative.

Although at present I have absolutely no place to store another car, the thought of buying a car from a defunct American make is beginning to percolate in (what’s left of) my brain. Hey, I could take my time in getting the car through the “iterations of repairs” (quoting John Kraman from his remarks to me last year about what it would take to get an older car to the state of being reliable) since we already have a Grocery Car/Taxi in the 2015 Cadillac ATS.

Oh damn, reality is starting creep back in…









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K Squared Was Right

First, a detour…yesterday my wonderful wife was able to make both vaccine appointments for herself with a national pharmacy chain. Ironically, her first appointment was to be later this morning. Of course, my first vaccine appointment was earlier this morning.

We went to State Farm Stadium for my appointment and as K Squared (our realtor) predicted, my wonderful wife was vaccinated as well despite not having an appointment. We both received the Pfizer vaccine and our next appointments, three weeks hence, have already been made. Talk about an early appointment, try 3:20 AM. We don’t care, really.

I am very glad we are five weeks away from “max immunity,” but still disappointed that so many people believe lies and disinformation about the vaccine and won’t take the shot(s). Ignorance is not bliss, it’s dangerous. Get Vaccinated!



This piece from Corvette Blogger is very interesting to me. It is a list of the fastest General Motors cars in the history of the Car and Driver Lightning Lap.


1. 2019 Corvette ZR1 2:39.5
2. 2015 Corvette Z06 (Z07) 2:44.6
3. 6th-Gen Camaro ZL1 1LE 2:45.0
4. 2017 Corvette Grand Sport (Z07) 2:47.1
5. 2020 Corvette Z51 2:49.0
6. 2017 Camaro ZL1 2:50.1
7. C6 Corvette ZR1   2:50.7
8. 2015 Camaro Z28 2:50.9
9. 2011 Corvette Z06 (Z07) 2:53.5
10. 2014 Corvette Z51 2:53.8


Some notes:

The 2019 ZR1 has the fourth fastest lap among all 281 cars ever tested. The three cars ahead are/were WAY more expensive.

The #2 GM car is, of course, identical to mine except for the year. Oh yes, I’ve had some intake and exhaust mods done to add some power.

The time for the #3 car was with the automatic transmission because it was nearly a second faster than the lap recorded with the manual.


Once again, while the car snobs may disagree, dollar for dollar the modern Corvette is the best performance car in the world. Long live the Corvette!








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